I’m very excited about today’s post! This is a topic I’ve been wanting to write about for a long time, as I have really enjoyed incorporating coconut into my everyday cooking. It’s a great source of healthy fats, and a wonderful alternative to dairy for those of us who don’t tolerate it well. I love using coconut milk, coconut oil, unsweetened shredded coconut, and even coconut flour in a wide variety of recipes.
Coconut is rich in lauric acid, which our bodies convert into monolaurin. This substance is antifungal, antiviral, antibacterial, and antiprotozoal. It is effective against yeast such as candida, and many viruses such as herpes, HIV, hepatitis, and influenza. (1)
Not only is coconut good for our immune systems, its also good for our cardiovascular health as well. While we’ve been taught that saturated fat is largely responsible for the epidemic of heart disease in our country, more and more research is disproving this theory. A study in 2004 showed that consumption of coconut oil actually decreased total cholesterol, LDL and VLDL cholesterol (the “bad” cholesterol), and increased HDL cholesterol (the good cholesterol). (2)
Coconut oil is also a great moisturizer, and can be used alone or combined with other ingredients to make lip balms, lotions, and all kinds of bath and body products! I use it as an eye makeup remover, which means I have one less product to buy and don’t have to worry about the toxins in conventional makeup removers. I even placed some in a small tin that I keep in my travel bag so I always have some with me.
It also has a high smoke point, so its great for cooking. I saute all my meats and veggies in coconut oil and never have a problem with smoke, and I don’t worry about burning the oil and making it carcinogenic. It’s also used a lot in baking recipes such as those found in the Babycakes cookbooks and The Spunky Coconut, which have some of my favorite gluten free, dairy free recipes! I add unsweetened shredded coconut to my oatmeal, use coconut milk for smoothies and cream based pasta sauces, and have begun experimenting more and more with coconut flour baking recipes.
Despite all this, it took me a while to actually start using coconut oil in my everyday cooking. Why? Well, if you’ve ever looked for it at your local supermarket, you’ve probably noticed that it is expensive, really expensive. For a long time I just couldn’t justify it in my budget. However, last year I finally found the solution. I now order organic, expeller pressed coconut oil in 5 gallon buckets from Tropical Traditions. When you order it in bulk like this, the price is phenomenally better than you’ll find at your local store: just $0.24 an ounce. The key is to order it on a free shipping day, which they have about once a month. If you subscribe to their newsletter they’ll send out an email on free shipping days, so you have to be prepared to order that day, but its a huge savings. Don’t think you can use that much coconut oil? Get together with friends and neighbors and divvy it up into smaller portions if you like. And in case you’re wondering, I don’t get any kickbacks for referring you to Tropical Traditions. I just wanted to share this tip with all of you health minded, frugal people like myself. Remember, you don’t have to break the bank to get high quality foods.
2. Beneficial effects of virgin coconut oil on lipid paramaters and in vitro LDL oxidation K. G. Nevin and T. Rajamohan, Clinical Biochemistry 37, 2004; 830-835.